Poems: The beekeeper

From the back of my Highlander, with its new-car smell,

the screened pine boombox hums in harmony:

Mozart on the radio jamming the song

of ten thousand bees and one queen.


They call it a package of bees or three pounds of bees,

Whatever, it’s all the same now: Explosive cargo in my rearview mirror.

Perhaps, I think, I should turn on my hazards.


Ten thousand winged bodies of yellow, tan, and black,

a ball clustering, a single mind.

Perhaps, I think, I wasn’t thinking: I just like honey.


I try for no-sudden-moves, but potholes suck me in like sinkholes and,

so sorry, but the swerves were necessary (suicidal springtime squirrels are the worst).


They protest (even the inexperienced I can tell they’re mad)

I turn the radio up again, and think maybe they’d prefer Aretha or Elvis?

Or, what about the Bee Gees?


Stayin’ Alive. Of course, who doesn’t want that?

We pull down my empty drive, to our new home, my empty hive.

I pick up the still-humming box (no gloves) and gasp:

A half-inch deep of still black bodies, given up already, pungent.

I hold my breath and reach into the morphing mass (yes gloves),

groping blindly for a smaller box

(it’s supposed to be here). I open my eyes. (I can’t find the box).

The bees seep out and see me

(Perhaps I wasn’t thinking).

I plunge my hand deeper until, at last, I feel the hard edge of the box.

It’s the queen, and she is safe, hallelujah, but it’s not over.

Carefully now I place her inside the hive.

Her servants must follow, fast. I flip

the box upside down, shaking,

pouring them over their queen,

like black sugar in my mug.